Wesley’s directions for singing

As I move mentally and spiritually, another time or two, through my material for this coming Sunday morning’s congregational worship–and it is to be worship this time, not just “songs,” or a mix of worship and edification and entertainment–I thought I’d share these words of Charles Wesley, the song- and hymn-writer.  Not all of these admonitions are terribly deep, but I find some worth in each one.

Focusing perhaps on Direction VII below, this Sunday, I intend, as I do my visible part, to do my best to lead others in worship of Almighty God and the Messiah.  Every song will be filled with direct worship, turning to God in all expressions rather than merely singing about Him.

 

Directions for Singing (from Charles Wesley, via the Methodist Hymnal):

I.  Learn these tunes before you learn any others; afterwards learn as many as you please.

II.  Sing them exactly as they are printed here, without altering or mending them at all; and if you have learned to sing them otherwise, unlearn it as soon as you can.

III.  Sing all.  See that you join with the congregations as frequently as you can.  Let not a slight degree of weakness or weariness hinder you.  If it is a cross to you, take it up, and you will find it a blessing.

IV.  Sing lustily and with good courage.  Beware of singing as if you were half dead, or half asleep; but lift up your voice with strength.  Be no more afraid of your voice now, nor more ashamed of its being heard, than when you sing the songs of Satan.

V.  Sing modestly.  Do not bawl, so as to be heard above the rest of the congregation, that you may not destroy the harmony; but strive to unite your voices together, so as to make one clear melodious sound.

VI.  Stay in time.  Whatever time is sung be sure to keep up with it.  Do not run before nor stay behind it; but attend close to the leading voices, and move therewith as exactly as you can; and take care not to sing too slow.  This drawling way naturally steals on all who are lazy; and it is high time to drive it out from us, and sing all our times just as quick as when we did at first.

VII.  Above all sing spiritually.  Have an eye to God in every word you sing….

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